8 Tips for the Dreaded Conversation: How to Stop Your Parent From Driving

1393063860hda4qMore than 5,560 older adults were killed and more than 214,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes in 2012.

This amounts to 15 older adults killed and 586 injured in crashes on average every day.

These harrowing statistics were published by The Centers for Disease Control.

Dreading the conversation? Not having it can have deadly consequences.

It’s one of the hardest conversations we have with aging parents who may be in denial about their poor eyesight, slower reflexes or diminished capacity.

But when Mom gets lost again on the way to the supermarket, or Dad makes up another story about the new dent in the car, someone has to make the call.

And that someone might be you.

Here are some tips for how to handle this difficult but necessary conversation, based on “We Need to Talk,” a publication from The Hartford and MIT Age Lab:

  • The best choice for who should have the conversation is the spouse, for married couples.
  • Older adults who are single prefer to have this conversation with their doctors, adult children, a sibling, or a close friend.
  • Keep calm – your loved one may have strong feelings – and you might, too.
  • Don’t postpone the conversation.
  • Be prepared to have several conversations.
  • Have the conversation before driving becomes a problem, to establish a pattern of open dialogue.
  • Use near misses as opportunities to have a conversation:
    • “That was a close call yesterday. I worry about your safety on the road.”
    • “I’m worried about your getting lost.”
    • “Have you asked your doctor about how your new medication affects your driving?”
  • Research and discuss transportation alternatives including having family members increase the frequency of visits and outings.

The good news is that more than half of older adults surveyed said that when someone talked to them about their driving skills, they listened and followed suggestions. So your chances are better than 50-50 at having a good outcome to the conversation.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to help them safely and successfully navigate this transition.



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